Bushfires burning across Queensland and New South Wales with multiple homes lost in Australia
Bushfires burning across Queensland and New South Wales in Australia, have gutted multiple homes lost and forced evacuations. Residents on the Sunshine Coast are praying a 15 000-litre payload of fire retardant dropped by a Boeing 737 helps bring the devastating blaze under control. About 2 500 homes were evacuated on Monday night, 9 September 2019 and another 40 were evacuated at Weyba Downs, just inland from the hard-hit Peregian Beach area, as winds picked up on Tuesday.
Fire conditions were expected to deteriorate into Tuesday evening as forecast south-easterly winds increase, authorities said. The Larger Air Tanker laid a trail of fire retardant along the fire front west of Peregian at around 15h00 before returning to NSW, the Courier-Mail reported.
“We will get one opportunity with that aircraft so that’s a 737 with 15 000 litres of load on there,” Assistant Fire Commissioner Gary McCormack told reporters. “So, we can do two half loads to half drops, but we only get one load.”
More than 90 fires were raging across Queensland and 55 in NSW, with scores of homes lost or damaged in the worst start to the fire season on record.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced she will cut her overseas trip short and return from Switzerland to assist with the crisis.
Satellite imagery revealed the blaze’s impact near Angourie in northern NSW. The fire can be seen creeping across the peninsula devastating everything in its path. Strong winds have helped whip up bushfires.
Queensland Police are questioning youths over three separate incidents on the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Brisbane. A 12-year-old boy from Slacks Creek will be dealt with under the Youth Justice Act over an allegedly deliberately lit fire behind the Woodridge Skate Park, south of Brisbane that destroyed bushland and a council storage unit on Monday night. Two 14-year-old girls are currently being questioned by police after an allegedly deliberately lit fire on Tuesday morning in bushland at Ormeau, 30km north of the Gold Coast.
Emergency services were called to an estate on the corner Jondaryan Street and Rockwood Drive at around 10h30 with reports that a fire in bushland was nearing houses. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services attended and quickly extinguished the fire. Police located the two girls at the scene, who are currently assisting investigators with their inquiries.
Meanwhile, three Queensland teenagers are being interviewed by police after allegedly boasting on the internet that they lit a devastating fire on the Sunshine Coast. The teens reportedly used a local chat room to admit to lighting the fast moving Peregian fire on Monday afternoon. The Peregian Beach Surf and Lifesaving Club posted on its Facebook page that they were sent a screenshot of an internet chat room message. “It has been reported that three teenage boys handed themselves in after the screenshot was passed around by their friends,” the surf club posted.
Queensland Police have told news.com.au that no charges have yet been laid. But Queensland Police commissioner Katarina Carroll said on Tuesday a taskforce had been set up to investigate suspicious fires. Channel 9 have shown an image of a message reportedly between some teens. In the message, one person says they lit a small fire and then “stomped it out” but another person “did a big fire and thru (sic) it all on the bush and it set.” “You’re dead” is the reply. “Bro, it’s not me. I wouldn’t do that”.
Police wouldn’t confirm the teens came to their attention because of the message but have confirmed officers were speaking with the boys over a fire that started in bushland off Koel Circuit in Peregian Springs about 16h30 on Monday.
Commissioner Carroll said parents needed to have a word with their kids. “Some fires have just clearly gotten away from kids thinking they are having fun. There has been reckless and purposeful behaviour from others,” she said. “Parents, please speak to your children. These are not usual conditions, they are actually quite dangerous.”
Residents in the Sunshine Coast towns of Peregian Beach, Peregian Breeze Estate, Marcus Beach and Weyba have been ordered to evacuate “immediately” as a fast-moving bushfire marches north. Brisbanites have been advised to close doors and windows as dust and smoke from the fires heads south.
Police are looking into whether arson may be behind ferocious blazes that have rocked the coastal conurbation of 350 000 with a number of children under investigation. Queensland’s top cop said there has been “reckless and purposeful behaviour” in the vicinity of the bushfires. Eight fires are being investigated for possible human involvement.
Meanwhile, approximately 60 NSW fire fighters were battling a major factory fire in an industrial area in south-western Sydney’s Moorebank on Tuesday afternoon. The factory and adjoining businesses have been evacuated as aerial fire fighting trucks attack the blaze, while neighbouring residents were advised to stay indoors and keep their windows and doors closed.
Homes have been evacuated in Collie Crescent as fire fighters work to prevent the spread of the blaze. Acting Queensland premier Jackie Trad said it was a “miracle” more homes had not been lost so far.
Around 92 fires are ablaze in Queensland, 17 homes have been destroyed and a further 67 damaged. As of 16h25, “a large and unpredictable” bushfire was travelling in a north, north westerly direction from Peregian Beach towards the southern end of Lake Weyba, just inland from Marcus Beach. It is not considered to be under control and the situation remains extremely volatile.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said leaving immediately was the safest option as it will soon be too dangerous to drive. As well as the leave warnings for Peregian Beach, Peregian Breeze Estate and Marcus Beach, prepare to leave warnings are in place for residents north of the fire front including at Weyba, Weyba Downs, Peregian Springs and Castaways Beach.
There has been some good news, however, with Gold Coast hinterland residents being allowed to return home to inspect the damage after fires destroyed eight homes and five commercial structures, including the 86-year-old, heritage-listed Binna Burra Lodge.
“This is an afternoon of good news,” Scenic Rim Mayor Greg Christensen said on Tuesday. “The wind has behaved very kindly to us, and we’ve been able to tell community members who have been displaced that they can now return home for the most part.”
A recovery centre remains open for those with nowhere else to go, including a small cluster of animals after whole patches of forest and farmland were blackened. Trad said the fact no one had died, no one was missing and damage was limited was an extraordinary outcome. “Last night’s herculean efforts resulted in nothing short of a miracle,” she told reporters on Tuesday.
In NSW three major bushfires are threatening homes. A fire at Shark Creek, in the Clarence Valley just south of Yamba, has destroyed at least nine homes and 34 outbuildings and damaged six homes, but crews are yet to fully assess the damage.
That fire remains the greatest concern for NSW authorities with southerly gusts of more than 60km/h hitting the area just before midday on Tuesday. There are also blazes at Bees Nest near Armidale and Drake near Tenterfield.
The Bees Nest fire is burning north towards properties in Billys Creek. Residents in Billys Creek have been advised to seek shelter as the fire front arrives.
In Drake, the fire is burning close to properties in Sandy Hill. Homes in Macleods Creek Rd are under threat.
As of 17h00, 50 fires were burning across the state, with 21 out of control. Fire fighters spent the night trying to protect property but have struggled in the tough conditions. “Just trying to get containment on these fires is a nightmare,” NSW Rural Fire Service deputy commissioner Rob Rogers told Channel 9.
Footage from inside the Peregian Beach disaster zone revealed the extent of the horror. The short clip shows lava-like embers being blown across the ground by strong winds as firefighters desperately battle to keep the blaze under control.
Residents of Marcus Beach, near Noosa in Queensland, have also now been told to evacuate with the fire now heading in that direction, and firefighters are currently water bombing blazes around Binna Burra in the state.